COSTA MESA — The Westmont volleyball team (14-8, 8-2) finished off a season series sweep of Vanguard (10-6, 5-5) on Friday night in Costa Mesa, with a victory over the Lions in four sets.
After splitting the first games 25-18 and 25-27, Westmont pulled away with 25-23 and 25-22 wins to finish the match.
“Vanguard is a really good team and the rivalry remains epic,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin. “They had a great crowd, and it was so hot in that gym. It’s never been an easy environment to play in, but our guys got it done.
“Our defensive effort was huge and offensively we were ripping balls without any fear in our eyes.”
In set one, the Warriors scored the first pair of points on a kill by Patty Kerman and an ace from Keelyn Kistner. From there, the club quickly built a 10-4 lead on another kill from Kerman, causing the Lions to call their first timeout.
Kills by Kerman and Phoebe Minch built the lead to 14-7 out of the timeout, before a three-point run from Vanguard pulled the Lions within four, causing McGolpin to use her first timeout.
Following the timeout, Vanguard scored three more points consecutively to pull within one, before Westmont answered with a four-point swing of its own to reclaim an 18-13 advantage.
Consecutive kills by Minch, followed by another from Kaylee Ivie, pushed the lead to 21-15, followed later by another pair of kills by Jessie Terlizzi to put the Warriors on the brink of a victory in set one. Ultimately, a service error from Vanguard sealed a 25-18 victory for the Warriors in game one.
In set two, the two sides traded points for the majority of the game’s first half, with neither club getting more than two points worth of breathing room until the game reached double digits.
Late in the set, with the Warriors up 21-19, the Lions flipped the script with a three-point swing to take a 22-21 lead over Westmont. A few moments later, Vanguard possessed a 24-22 advantage, but the Warriors responded with a kill from Minch and then were helped out with a bad set from the Lions to tie the game at 24.
Unfortunately for Westmont, with the game tied at 25, a kill and a block from the Lions gave them a 27-25 set win to tie things up.
“Our passing just broke down in set two,” said McGolpin. “We have great athletes and great attackers, but without passing well we don’t give ourselves a chance to play our best brand of volleyball.”
Set three began similarly to set two, with neither side running away from the other until the score reached double-digits. Up 8-7, Vanguard went on a five-point run to take a 13-7 advantage, and McGolpin was forced to burn her second timeout before Westmont had made it a third of the way to 25.
Following the timeout, Vanguard scored another pair of points to close out a 7-0 run before Westmont could stop the bleeding. However, the Warriors would not go away, pulling within four at 17-13 and staying within reach leading up to a last-second run.
Down 22-18, Westmont erupted with a six-point run to take a 24-22 lead. Two possessions later, Minch’s 11th kill of the night capped off a remarkable comeback to give Westmont a 25-23 win, and a 2-1 set advantage.
“The numbers don’t show it,” said McGolpin, “but a lot of that boils down to the serving run that Lilian Reininga was able to go on. We had a good plan of attack from a serving standpoint, and that allowed us to put them on their heels. Then it was just a gritty performance. It showed a lot being able to claw back and take that game.”
Again in set four, the two sides traded blows during the single-digit portion of the game, entering the middle part of the set in a 9-9 tie.
With the Warriors down 11-10, kills by Kerman and Malone sparked a four-point run that saw the Warriors take a 14-11 lead into a Vanguard timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Warriors scored another pair of points to stretch the run to a six-point swing before the Lions could score again. The Lions wouldn’t go away, however, much like the Warriors in set three, as they went on a five-point run of their own to knot things at 16.
Then, kills by Malone, Terlizzi, and Audrey Brown highlighted a four-point run by the Warriors that put the club up 20-16. However, once again, the Lions matched the Warriors with a four-point swing of their own to tie it up.
Finally, with the Warriors up 23-22, kills by Terlizzi and Kerman gave the Warriors a 25-22 set win — and 3-1 match victory.
“It seemed like we had a pretty balanced attack all night,” noted McGolpin. “Lexi got on a bit of a roll when we needed it, Jessie turned it on big time, and everyone seemed to have a timely kill when we needed it.”
Terlizzi led the way with 15 kills, while Minch and Malone added 13 and 11 respectively. Libero Lilian Reininga led the club with 17 digs, while Sydny Dunn and Kistner collected 22 and 18 assists each.
Jacob Norling is a sports information assistant at Westmont College.